I'd almost be willing to except Tamarisks as an alternative - Okay, well maybe not
|Desert Willow Golf Resort|
"The 124 golf courses in the Coachella Valley consume roughly 17 percent of all water there, and one quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer, according to the Coachella Valley Water District. Statewide, roughly one percent of water goes to keep golf courses green. Each of the 124 Coachella Valley courses, on average, uses nearly 1 million gallons a day due to the hot and dry climate, 3-4 times more water per day than the average American golf course."Wow, each 124 courses use 1 millions gallons of water a day, which is not surprising given the extreme hot and dry climatic environment they are location. Of course to justify the existence of this industry in the desert, they claim to ONLY use reclaimed water. In fact I will often hear people defend the existence of such businesses who insist, "They only use reclaimed water". Still, that's a lot of water which considering the presence climate shift crisis, one would assume could be put to better uses. Even so, the Sunnyland Estate has made an official Public Relations Statement on the subject.
"The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands has taken significant measures to reduce water usage. In consideration of the conditions that led Governor Brown to make a drought declaration, reducing water consumption is a more important priority than ever."Commendable, but is it enough, especially since 1 million gallons a day goes to entertain a handful of an elite minority at these places ? Obviously Golf Courses like the Annenberg Estate are easy targets for no other reason than they are so huge and cannot be dismissed or ignored so easily. The term I used to describe the main plant used at such desert Golf Courses is, "Pompous Grass", which are nothing more than non-native exotic grasses from an entirely foreign environment. Short rooted and always thirsty for water and equally hungry for those chemical fertilizers which keep them green. They are indeed a unnatural water resource waster no matter what label you attach to the water's origin. And mind you, these are water resources that were originally taken from far away from somewhere else and transported here. But besides the exotic water loving grasses, there are examples which are in need dire change and not mentioned in any of the articles which deserve equal criticism. I've written about this before. Tamarisk wind and privacy breaks. Take another look at an older photograph of the Annenberg Estate. I chose this one because it beautifully highlights and contrasts this Wealthy Compound with the surrounding desert environment. Today the raw land in the background for the most part is presently occupied. It's surrounded by a dense wall of Tamarisk which are topped every so often for maintenance. In the distance you can also see the windbreak barrier lining the right-of-way for Southern Pacific Railroad & Interstate 10.
|aerial photograph taken by Lawrence Levy in 1983|
There was a miniseries film back in 1993 called "The Fire Next Time" which starred Craig T. Nelson. Here's an overview of what the film was about by Brian Dillard: "This ecological drama, set in 2017, presents a world where pollution has generated ever more unpredictable weather and rendered large chunks of the planet into disaster zones. After a hurricane destroys everything they've built for themselves, Louisiana shrimp fisherman Drew Morgan (Craig T. Nelson) and his family, including wife Suzanne (Bonnie Bedelia), flee through a series of refugee camps to upstate New York, where Drew's estranged former business partner Larry Richter (Jurgen Prochnow) -- who has designs on Suzanne -- lives in comfort and affluence. Along the way, Drew loses his daughter, Linnie (Ashley Jones), to an agrarian doomsday cult; watches his elderly father (Richard Farnsworth) suffer a stroke; and almost drives away his confused oldest son, Paul (Justin Whalin). When Larry offers to shelter Drew's family if Drew himself will leave, Suzanne and the kids rally behind him. Things go awry, however, when an attempt to smuggle themselves across the border ends with Craig washed up on Canadian shores and the rest of the family stranded and penniless back in America. Originally presented as a two-part miniseries, "The Fire Next Time" premiered on CBS on April 18 and 20, 1993."
What is it about the year 2017 and global warming ??? This is the same 2017 date in which things started going wrong in another iconic Sci-Fi film called "Soylent Green" which starred Charlton Heston in yet another futuristic Global Warming disaster scenario. In the film "The Fire Next Time", Craig T. Nelson's character, Drew Morgan has problems with his Son, Paul [played by Justin Whalin] who hates the life the family must endure and runs away to live with his rich uncle Buddy Eckhard [played by Charles Haid] who profits off the misfortunes of the common people who are suffering through the climate change. Uncle Buddy lives in Palm Springs, has a posh air-conditioned home, has employee servants who wash his expensive cars out in the open with water that is scare resource, has a plush green lawn all of which are extremely expensive to maintain and against the laws of that time to possess. But he explains to his nephew that he's rich and can pay for it and it's all about who you know. Of course the kid is impressionable. But the attitude of Uncle Buddy Eckhard isn't that far fetched. My former Ag Instructor from CalPoly San Luis Obispo was threatened by an industrial Agricultural giant from the San Joaquin Valley (Harris Ranch Beef) who threatened CalPoly to fire him for his sustainable farming course and comments he made about water being wasted in the San Joaquin's western side, recently wrote me an email stating this about the coming castastrophic ecological events headed towards California,
"Never in the history of civilization have people been able to sustain themselves irrigating a desert. We are seeing that play out on a large stage. There will be a lot of pain and suffering. Of course, the 1% won't be affected....but the other 99% are in for some big shocks over the next century."
I think things are coming to a head sooner than later. It's about "The Fire This Time".
Hwy 52 and 67 Interchange, Santee California
You can pick out a fair number of native California plants here, but also notice the almost chocking presence of weedy annuals & invasive non-native shrubs/trees like Tamarisks everywhere in between. Now it's commendable that they are using reclaimed water, also commendable in their choice of using some native plants. But it's clearly being wasted by the irresponsible overkill with irrigation infrastructure (overhead Sprinkler spraying) which in my opinion are out of date and antiquated. At least drip to each plant would not have facilitated the weeds. Take a look below at why. Among the many native plants which definitely have aesthetic value, like California Holly (or Toyon), Laurel Sumac, Matilija Poppy, Coast Live Oak, etc. However on closer inspection they also used other native plants which in my opinion are not necessarily of the ornamental value kind, especially when it comes to the urban Landscape where people are driving slower and concentrated such as at an interchange with numerous on and off ramps and other exists. For example I saw California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Black sage (Salvia mellifera), White sage (Salvia apiana), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), Coast brittle-bush (Encelia californica, etc, etc, etc. All kool plants in my opinion and of great wildlife value for local critters, but they often do dry out and tend to be rangy looking if their rootsystem has been trained to remain on the surface instead of growing deeper into the soil. Now, on down the road in areas of the roadway where they have blasted through the mountain which creates large roadway bank easements or otherwise known as cutouts, that's great, those plants work perfect there and will adapt and are perfectly adapted to take care of themselves over time. But the importance of such State or City funded & sponsored roadway beautification projects is that they should also want to encourage the public to do likewise. Many native plants, while they all have value and importance to ecosystem function, are often just not equal in their aesthetic value in appearance, again some being rangy, which is what most folk's first impression when you suggest going Native. Many of the plants I spoke of earlier along the Palo Colorado Canyon Road in Central California are if anything beautiful deep evergreen which is what you want for public eye appeal.
What could be wrong with this you wonder ? It wastes water and I don't care if it is only reclaimed water which is considered not good enough for drinking. It's valuable water none the less and they are throwing away a valuable resource that is especially now almost worth it's weight in gold. We're not even talking evapotranspiration here from the vegetation leaves. We're talking surface evaporation off a dry surface which probably doesn't soak in all that well, We're also talking about the majority of the mist of which blows off into the wind rather than on the proposed target. This also facilitates the production of non-mycorrhizal ruderals otherwise known as weeds which compete for water and nutrients and whose sole offensive purpose in life is to mass reproduce themselves by means of seed production which in turn spreads more of themselves across the landscape. That creates tougher maintenance costs in chemicals beside man hours which would be better spent elsewhere. Notice now another important issue below. Non-Native invasive shrubs and trees like that of the Tamarisk or Salt Cedar. Incredibly, like Cottonwood and Willow, they have a cottony seed that only has a short window of viability and opportunity to germinate. Oddly enough I've even seen Cottonwood and Willow volunteer germinate under such wet landscape conditions. That in itself should be an indicate of water overuse, since the presence of such trees represents a riparian ecosystem. But the wet surface conditions of the wasted reclaimed water used have allowed this environment to be favourable to Tamarix establishment. There are literally 100s of small Tamarix seedlings and saplings at this very interchange landscape. Take a look below here.
Salt Cedar (Tamarix)
|image Mine Salt Cedar (Tamarix)|
Seriously, who wants this in their landscape ? Now I've tried to have an open mind about Tamarisk and I am certain they play major important ecosystem roles where they originate from in North Africa, Middle east & China, but just not here. The last thing anyone needs is a Tamarix Tree in the landscape which suck far more water than a Native plant.
Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)
Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina)
|So simple, even a child gets this|
|Image: Hunter Industires|
I've written previously as I've stated about this before in the link above. Picture the above illustration as a typical California native tree, especially an Oak Tree. This underground location in the animated illustration is where they actually want and need water in the summer time. Irrespective of the soil type, this is where most all plant's in dry locations need their moisture during the hotter months of the year and this is where many and most of the giant majestic trees like Oaks and Sycamores obtain their water anyway. This is obvious when you drive past almost any bajada or alluvial floodplain in Southern California. Take a drive by any of the east/west Freeway road corridors from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, and you will find great examples of large mature trees whose sole source of surface water is the rainy season, but whose prime source of hydration comes from deep down under. You won't have to venture off far from the freeways at all since most all of them cross over these giant geological structures throughout their corridor routes. My favourite example is driving north on I-215 from San Bernardino to Cajon Pass via Devore. Notice on your right hand side especially the major lone Sycamores here and there, even though some are stunted, still you have to ask yourself why does such a water loving tree exist on such a dry rocky sandy site where even perennial or even annual spring stream runoff is nonexistent ? It's because something is going on deep under ground. This is where light bulbs should be turning on under your thinking caps right now. Ask yourself, How can I replicate that natural system and save water in my landscape, and in some instances almost eliminating it altogether ? You should also consider that this same basic need of natives are also the same exacting requirements with many similar outsider exotic plants used in landscaping today. The exception to that rule would be tropical plant communities and plants from Boreal climates like where I live now. Take a quick look at this simple quote from a great article where Science is finally recognizing the important roles properly constructed plant communities play in Earth's Climate. It's far more than simply looking pretty for us.
"Scientists have assumed a simple model of plants sucking water out of the soil and spewing water vapor into the atmosphere."
"The new study in the Amazonian forest shows that trees use water in a much more complex way: The tap roots transfer rainwater from the surface to reservoirs deep underground and redistribute water upwards after the rains to keep the top layers moist, thereby accentuating both carbon uptake and localized atmospheric cooling during dry periods."
"Trees have long been known to lift water from the soil to great heights using a principle called hydraulic lift, with energy supplied by evaporation of water from leaf openings called stomata. Twenty years ago, however, some small plants were found to do more than lift water from the soil to the leaves - they also lifted deep water with their tap root and deposited it in shallow soil for use at a later time, and reversed the process during the rainy season to push water into storage deep underground. Dawson discovered in 1990 that trees do this, too, and to date, so-called hydraulic redistribution has been found in some 60 separate deeply rooted plant species."
Failure and/or refusal to acknowledge the great sophistication which is our plant world is put together and works in harmony with each other along with the major mechanism roles their infrastructure plays in weather creation and cloud formation just doesn't cut it anymore. BTW, the quote above and below in yellow are from Todd Dawson, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley and his team published back in 2006 and here we are 8 years later dealing with the same ignorance and a climate in far worse shape than it was then. Again, no excuse not to know how to replicate a natural system within any human construct. This is especially true where designing urban landscapes or engineering a habitat restoration using the old outdated antiquated methods is an irresponsible deliberate act siding comfortably with ignorance. At one time people [especially those in position of responsible oversight] could claim ignorance. Repeat, there is too much info out there now for designers, engineers and architects to claim ignorance for their improperly designed installations.
"The process is a passive one, he noted, driven by chemical potential gradients, with tree roots acting like pipes to allow water to shift around much faster than it could otherwise percolate through the soil. In many plants that exhibit hydraulic redistribution, the tap roots are like the part of an iceberg below water. In some cases these roots can reach down more than 100 times the height of the plant above ground. Such deep roots make sense if their purpose is to redistribute water during the dry season for use by the plant's shallow roots, though Dawson suspects that the real reason for keeping the surface soil moist is to make it easier for the plant to take in nutrients."
Saying we just never knew this before isn't any longer a viable excuse. It's as bad as those who condemned the Ascension Island success story with the cloud forests which now presently create their own unique weather & climate. People have got to start reassessing their support in these organizations which insist they are all about a biodiverse environment when in reality what they are really interested in is ideological indoctrination around the global in another fatally flawed political worldview and the corrupting power that comes with it. Their actions clearly speak louder than their words. I get politicians being uninformed, but the people on the ground and those advising them should have known better.
|Image: Colleen Sasser, Asuza California|
Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Nature Center
Another beautiful example of majestic large trees in alluvial floodplains is the region of Irwindale California which is a massive floodplain re-routed, channeled with concrete and manipulated so much by mankind's need for raw building materials, housing and road right-of-way corridors. Still we have remnants of trees of which whose seed was deposited decades ago in the past during a very heavy rainy event like an El Nino pattern over a few years time. No doubt many more 1000s of such trees here were germinated at the same time, competition became stiff and heavy, with only the toughest trees fortunate enough to put down roots deep into the earth and tap into the underground aquifer. Many urban landscape trees like these examples above would be so easy to pattern after with the right encouragement by landscape architects and developers over a period of a few years. Root training would be easy given all plant's ability at sniffing out the direction of water. A couple weeks ago I wrote about a plant's uncanny ability at sensing out water and sending roots in that direction to tap into that life sustaining resource. Now it isn't necessary to understand the science behind just how a plant is able to do this, but simply knowing about this ability they possess arms one with the knowledge of how to proceed when training plant roots for deeper underground root infrastructure which will benefit for life.
So what about Golf Courses in Deserts ?
Mycorrhizal Application Inc did a test plot of three lawns section in Washington DC as the 2010 photo they posted revealed. Those Washington D.C. Capital Lawns where only the front three areas were treated with MycoApply while the rest had not yet been treated! In fact I remember MycoApply highlighting the experience they had on making application on the White House lawn when Obama became President which was posted on their Facebook page. It proves that commercial applications can be a success, but there also needs to be follow through on maintenance and proper fertilization. Mycorrhizae hate the chemicals conventional landscapers use. Therefore almost a deprogramming and re-education work needs to be done in order for the newer program to remain viable. There is no guarantee that those commercial Golf Courses down in the deserts will ever change. Getting people to think outside the box is tough to do, even if Nature has been doing things a certain way successfully for countless 1000s of years. I'm still no fan of Pompous Grass resorts, but that's just me. If everyone else has to change, then so should they, irrespective of how much money and power they may think they have. Reclaimed Water is as equally valuable as the clean fresh water which comes out of the tap. The present Climate Change reality has finally forced a redefinition that term's true meaning.
Further Turf Resources for everyone
Update August 3, 2014: Man-made wetlands turn wastewater into tap water
|Image: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc|
One month since sowing, the difference between inoculating one species Glomus intraradices (left) and a 7 endomycorrhizal species inoculation (right) is quite striking. The only difference between the soil/treatments was the biodiversity of the mycorrhizal inoculum.